Stem cells speed growth of healthy liver tissue

Mar 27, 2007

For the first time, researchers have used adult bone marrow stem cells to regenerate healthy human liver tissue, according to a study published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.

When large, fast-growing cancers invade the liver, some patients are unable to undergo surgery, because removing the cancerous tissue would leave too little liver to support the body.

Researchers at Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany, used adult bone marrow stem cells to help quickly regenerate healthy liver tissue, enabling patients to eventually undergo a surgical resection.

“Our study suggests that liver stem cells harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow can further augment and accelerate the liver’s natural capacity to regenerate itself,” said Günther Fürst, M.D., co-author and professor of radiology.

In the study, researchers compared the results of portal vein embolization (PVE), a technique currently used to help regenerate liver tissue, to a combination of PVE and an injection of bone marrow stem cells into the liver.

PVE blocks blood flow to the diseased portion of the liver and diverts blood to the organ’s healthy tissue, promoting liver growth. Bone marrow stem cells extracted from the patient’s hip bone and injected into the liver also help the liver regenerate.

The study included 13 patients with large central liver malignancies who were unable to undergo surgery because resection would leave less than 25 percent of their total liver volume.

Six of the patients underwent both PVE and injection of bone marrow stem cells. Seven patients underwent only PVE. Computed tomography (CT) scans were performed before and up to five weeks after PVE to determine the degree of liver growth.

Patients who received the combination of PVE and stem cell injection had double the liver growth rate and gain in liver volume, compared with those who underwent PVE alone. As a result, the patients who received the combined treatment were able to undergo surgery an average of 18 days sooner than patients who received PVE only.

“Our research demonstrates that stem cells are a powerful adjunct to PVE for patients undergoing surgical resection,” said Jan Schulte am Esch, M.D., co-author and surgery staff member. “Based on our results, we also believe that adult stem cell administration may be a promising therapy for regenerating livers damaged by other chronic and acute diseases.”

The researchers are currently embarking on a randomized controlled trial of the therapy.

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Explore further: Two Michigan high school students develop screening tools to detect lung and heart disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tailored 'activity coaching' by smartphone

32 minutes ago

Today's smartphone user can obtain a lot of data about his or her health, thanks to built-in or separate sensors. Researcher Harm op den Akker of the University of Twente (CTIT Institute) now takes this health ...

Chemists tackle battery overcharge problem

32 minutes ago

Research from the University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry will help batteries resist overcharging, improving the safety of electronics from cell phones to airplanes.

Operation IceBridge turns five

42 minutes ago

In May 2014, two new studies concluded that a section of the land-based West Antarctic ice sheet had reached a point of inevitable collapse. Meanwhile, fresh observations from September 2014 showed sea ice ...

A newborn supernova every night

42 minutes ago

Thanks to a $9 million grant from the National Science Foundation and matching funds from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) collaboration, a new camera is being built at Caltech's Palomar Observatory that ...

New data about marsh harrier distribution in Europe

46 minutes ago

The use of ringing recoveries —a conventional method used to study bird migration— in combination with more modern techniques such as species distribution modelling and stable isotope analysis helps to ...

Recommended for you

Neutralising antibodies for safer organ transplants

17 hours ago

Serious complications can arise following kidney transplants. If dialysis is required within the first seven days, then the transplanted organ is said to have a Delayed Graft Function (DGF), and essentially ...

User comments : 0